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Richard Donald Crenna (November 30, 1926 – January 17, 2003) was an American motion picture, television, and radio actor[4] and occasional television director.[5]

Richard Crenna
Richard Crenna Luke McCoy 1961.JPG
Richard Crenna, portraying Luke McCoy, in the television series, The Real McCoys, in 1961.
Richard Donald Crenna

(1926-11-30)November 30, 1926
DiedJanuary 17, 2003(2003-01-17) (aged 76)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Alma materUniversity of Southern California[1]
OccupationActor, director, producer
Years active1937–2003
Joan Grisham
(m. 1950; div. 1955)

Hannah Smith
(m. 1957; his death 2003)
Military career
Allegiance United States
Service/branchSeal of the United States Department of War.png United States Army
Years of service1944–45
RankArmy-USA-OR-04a.svg Corporal[2]
Battles/warsWorld War II
AwardsAmerican Campaign Medal ribbon.svg American Campaign Medal
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign ribbon.svg European–African–Middle Eastern Campaign Medal
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal ribbon.svg Asiatic–Pacific Campaign Medal
World War II Victory Medal ribbon.svg World War II Victory Medal[3]

Richard Crenna starred in such motion pictures as The Sand Pebbles, Wait Until Dark,[5] Un Flic, Body Heat,[5] the first three Rambo movies,[4] Hot Shots! Part Deux,[4] and The Flamingo Kid. Crenna's first success came on radio in 1948 as high school student "Walter Denton" co-starring with Eve Arden and Gale Gordon in the CBS network series Our Miss Brooks. Crenna continued with the long running comedy in its 1952 move into television. He also had a role as "Luke McCoy" in the ABC television, and later CBS, series The Real McCoys (1957–63).


Early lifeEdit

Crenna was born November 30, 1926, in Los Angeles, the only child of Edith J. (née Pollette), who was a hotel manager in Los Angeles, and Dominick Anthony Crenna, a pharmacist. His parents were both of Italian descent.[6] Crenna attended Virgil Junior High School, followed by Belmont High School in Los Angeles, from which he graduated in 1944.[7]

World War II serviceEdit

Following high school, Crenna served in the U.S. Army during World War II, serving in the infantry as a radioman, where he saw combat in Belgium during the Battle of the Bulge (late 1944 – early 1945). He also briefly served in the Pacific Theater of World War II processing intercepted Japanese radio messages.[7]


After World War II, Crenna attended the University of Southern California where he majored in English, eventually receiving his Bachelor of Arts degree and was a member of the Kappa Sigma fraternity.[5][8]

Acting careerEdit

Radio yearsEdit

Crenna got his acting start on radio. In 1937, he had gained his first role that of "the kid who did everything wrong" on Boy Scout Jamboree, a show on which he continued to appear occasionally in numerous roles until 1948. In the following year, he started playing Walter "Bronco" Thompson on The Great Gildersleeve, and played it until the show's end in 1957. He appeared as a delivery boy in My Favorite Husband episode "Liz Cooks Dinner for 12", was Oogie Pringle on A Date With Judy episode "The Competitive Diet" and several other episodes from the show and as a teenager on The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show episode "Watching the Neighbor's Daughter".

Early television yearsEdit

Crenna and Kathleen Nolan in The Real McCoys, 1960

From 1948, Crenna played Walter Denton on radio's Our Miss Brooks remaining with the cast when it moved into television in 1952. He guest starred on the I Love Lucy episode "The Young Fans" with Janet Waldo and on NBC's 1955–56 anthology series, Frontier, in the lead role of the episode entitled "The Ten Days of John Leslie". In 1955, he was the guest star on The Millionaire in the episode "The Ralph McKnight Story".

In 1956, on the television series Father Knows Best, Crenna appeared in the episode "The Promising Young Man" as a protege named Woody. In 1957, he played a bank robber on the Cheyenne show (season 2, episode 19).

In 1956 when the Our Miss Brooks TV series underwent a change in format, the character of Walter Denton was dropped. Crenna then joined the cast of the comedy series The Real McCoys, as Luke McCoy. Kathleen Nolan was cast as his young wife, Kate McCoy. Later, Crenna became one of the four directors of the series during its six-year run (1957–63).


Crenna and Bernadette Peters in All's Fair, 1976

In the 1960s, Richard Crenna directed many episodes of The Andy Griffith Show credited as "Dick Crenna". He also directed episodes of Lou Grant, which ran on CBS from 1977-82.[5]

Crenna portrayed California state senator James Slattery in the CBS-TV series, Slattery's People (1964–65). For his acting in this series, he was twice nominated for an Emmy Award with slightly different names: for "Outstanding Individual Achievements in Entertainment" and for "Outstanding Continued Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Dramatic Series", both in 1965.[9] Crenna was also nominated for a Golden Globe Award for "Best TV Star – Male" for this same role, again in 1965. In 1966, Crenna played beside Steve McQueen as an ill-fated captain of an American gunboat in 1930s China in The Sand Pebbles.

During the 1970s, Crenna continued his acting in such Western dramas such as The Deserter, Catlow, The Man Called Noon and Breakheart Pass. He made a notable performance in Jean-Pierre Melville's final film Un Flic in 1972. In 1976, Crenna returned to weekly network television in the Norman Lear CBS sit-com All's Fair, a political satire co-starring Bernadette Peters that lasted a single season. The 1978 NBC-TV miniseries, Centennial, based on James A. Michener's historical novel Centennial, saw Crenna in the role of deranged religious fanatic, Colonel Frank Skimmerhorn, who ordered the 1864 massacre of Colorado American Indians.

1980s-early 2000sEdit

Crenna won an Emmy Award,[5] and a nomination for a Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television, for his performance as the main character in the 1985 movie The Rape of Richard Beck.[10]

Crenna played John Rambo's ex-commanding officer Colonel Sam Trautman in the first three Rambo films, a role for which he was hired after the actor Kirk Douglas left the production just one day into the filming of the first movie of the series.[11] Crenna himself also spoofed this character in the movie Hot Shots! Part Deux, in 1993. Crenna portrayed the character of New York City Police Lieutenant of Detectives Frank Janek in a series of seven popular made for television films starting in 1988 and ending in 1994. The character of Janek originally appeared in a series of novels by Award-winning author William Bayer.[12][13]


Crenna was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame located at 6714 Hollywood Boulevard.[14]

Illnesses and deathEdit

Crenna had pancreatic cancer, and died on January 17, 2003 at age 76 of heart failure at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, with his wife, Penni, and his three adult children by his side, said his daughter Seana Crenna. His remains were cremated.[15]



Year Title Role Notes
1950 Let's Dance Bit Part Uncredited
1951 Starlift Movie Theater Usher Uncredited
1952 Red Skies of Montana Noxon Uncredited
1952 The Pride of St. Louis Paul Dean
1952 It Grows on Trees Ralph Bowen
1956 Over-Exposed Russell Bassett
1956 Our Miss Brooks Walter Denton
1965 John Goldfarb, Please Come Home John Goldfarb
1966 Made in Paris Herb Stone
1966 The Sand Pebbles Captain Collins
1967 Wait Until Dark Mike Talman
1968 Star! Richard Aldrich
1969 Midas Run Mike Warden
1969 Marooned Jim Pruett
1971 Doctors' Wives Dr. Peter Brennan
1971 The Deserter Maj. Wade Brown
1971 Red Sky at Morning Frank Arnold
1971 Catlow Marshal Ben Cowan
1972 Un Flic Simon aka "Dirty Money"
1973 The Man Called Noon Noon
1973 Jonathan Livingston Seagull Father Voice
1975 Breakheart Pass Gov. Richard Fairchild
1978 The Evil C.J. Arnold
1979 Stone Cold Dead Sgt. Boyd
1979 Wild Horse Hank Pace Bradford
1980 Death Ship Trevor Marshall
1980 Joshua's World Dr. Joshua Torrance
1981 Body Heat Edmund Walker
1982 First Blood Col. Samuel Trautman
1983 Table for Five Mitchell
1984 The Flamingo Kid Phil Brody Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture
1985 Rambo: First Blood Part II Col. Samuel Trautman
1985 Summer Rental Al Pellet
1988 Rambo III Col. Samuel Trautman
1989 Leviathan Dr. Glen 'Doc' Thompson
1993 Hot Shots! Part Deux Col. Denton Walters
1995 A Pyromaniac's Love Story Tom Lumpke Uncredited
1995 Jade Governor Lew Edwards
1995 Sabrina Patrick Tyson
1998 Wrongfully Accused Lieutenant Fergus Falls
2008 Rambo Col. Samuel Trautman Archive footage / Uncredited


Year Title Role Notes
1952 I Love Lucy Arthur Morton Episode: "Arthur Morton"
1952–1955 Our Miss Brooks Walter Denton 94 episodes
1955 The Millionaire Ralph McKnight Episode: "The Ralph McKnight Story"
1956 Frontier John Leslie Episode: "The 10 Days of John Leslie"
1956–1958 Matinee Theatre Sgt. James 3 episodes
1956 Medic Donny Episode: "Don't Count the Stars"
1956 Father Knows Best Elwood Seastrom Episode: "The Promising Young Man"
1957 The Silent Service Lt. Cmdr. 'Jeff' L. L. Davis Episode: "The U.S.S. Pampanito Story"
1957 Cheyenne Curley Galway Episode: "Hard Bargain"
1957–1963 The Real McCoys Luke McCoy 225 episodes
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series (1959)
1960 The Deputy Andy Willis Episode: "A Time to Sow"
1963 Kraft Suspense Theatre Edward Smalley Episode: "The Long, Lost Life of Edward Smalley"
1964–1965 Slattery's People James Slattery 36 episodes
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series (1966)
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Individual Achievements in Entertainment (1965)
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Television Series Drama (1965)
1971–1972 Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In Guest Performer 3 episodes
1971 Thief Neal Wilkinson Television film
1972 Footsteps Paddy O'Connor Television film
1973 Double Indemnity Walter Neff Television film
1974 Nightmare Howard Faloon Television film
1974 Shootout in a One-Dog Town Zack Wells Television film
1974 Double Solitaire Television film
1974 Honky Tonk 'Candy' Johnson Television film
1975 A Girl Named Sooner R.J. "Mac" McHenry Television film
1976–1977 All's Fair Richard C. Barrington 24 episodes
1977 The War Between the Tates Professor Brian Tate Television film
1978–1979 Centennial Colonel Frank Skimmerhorn Television miniseries
1978 Devil Dog: The Hound of Hell Mike Barry Television film
1978 First, You Cry David Towers Television film
1978 A Fire in the Sky Jason Voight Television film
1979 Mayflower: The Pilgrims' Adventure William Brewster Television film
1979 Better Late Then Never Director Television film
1980 Fugitive Family Brian Roberts / Matthews Television film
1981 The Ordeal of Bill Carney Mason Rose Television film
1981 Daniel Boone Television film / Voice
1981 Look at Us
1982 The Day the Bubble Burst Jesse Livermore Television film
1982–1983 It Takes Two Dr. Sam Quinn 22 episodes
1984 Squaring the Circle The Narrator Television film
1984 London and Davis in New York John Greyson Television film
1984 Passions Richard Kennerly Television film
1985 The Rape of Richard Beck Richard Beck Television film
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film
1985 Doubletake Frank Janek Television miniseries
1986 A Case of Deadly Force Lawrence O'Donnell Sr. Television film
1986 On Wings of Eagles H. Ross Perot Television miniseries
1986 The High Price of Passion Williams Douglas Television film
1987 Police Story: The Freeway Killings Deputy Chief Bob Devers Television film
1987 Kids Like These Bob Goodman Television film
1987 Plaza Suite Roy Hubley Television film
1988 Internal Affairs Frank Janek Television film
1989 The Case of the Hillside Stranglers Sgt. Bob Grogan Television film
1989 Stuck with Each Other Bert Medwick Television film
1990 Murder in Black and White Frank Janek Television film
1990 Montana Hoyce Guthrie Television film
1990 Last Flight Out Dan Hood Television film
1990 Murder Times Seven Frank Janek Television film
1991 And the Sea Will Tell Vincent Bugliosi Television film
1991–1992 Pros and Cons Mitch O'Hannon 12 episodes
1992 Intruders Dr. Neil Chase Television miniseries
1992 Terror on Track 9 Det. Frank Janek Television film
1993 A Place to Be Loved George Russ Television film
1994 The Forget-Me-Not Murders Frank Janek Television film
1994 Jonathan Stone: Threat of Innocence Jonathan Stone Television film
1994 Janek: The Silent Betrayal Lt. Frank Janek Television film
1995 In the Name of Love: A Texas Tragedy Lucas Constable, Sr. Television film
1995–1998 JAG Lt. Harmon Rabb, Sr. 4 episodes
1996 Race Against Time: The Search for Sarah John Porter Television film
1996 Texas Graces Virgil Grace Television film
1997 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea Professor Aronnax Television film
1997 Deep Family Secrets Clay Chadway Television film
1997 Heart Full of Rain Arliss Dockett Television film
1997 Cold Case Host Television film
1999 To Serve and Protect Howard Carr Television miniseries
1999 The Man Who Makes Things Happen: David L. Wolper Narrator Television film
1999 Chicago Hope Dr. Martin Rockwell Episode: "Teacher's Pet"
2000–2002 Judging Amy Jared Duff 13 episodes
2000 Murder, She Wrote: A Story to Die For Warren Pierce Television film
2000 By Dawn's Early Light Ben Maxwell Television film
2001 The Day Reagan Was Shot Ronald Reagan Television film
2003 Out of the Ashes Jake Smith Television film

Video gamesEdit

Year Title Role Notes
2014 Rambo: The Video Game Col. Samuel Trautman Voice / Character Likeness / Uncredited

Awards and nominationsEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Richard Crenna bio". The Gettysburg Times. Retrieved November 30, 2017.
  2. ^ "Crenna, Richard Donald, Cpl". Together We Served. Retrieved November 30, 2017.
  3. ^ "Crenna, Richard Donald,Cpl". Together We Served. Retrieved November 30, 2017.
  4. ^ a b c "Richard Crenna". The New York Times.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Kilgannon, Corey (January 19, 2003). "Richard Crenna, Veteran Actor, Is Dead at 76". The New York Times. Retrieved April 17, 2011.
  6. ^
  7. ^ a b "Crenna, Richard Donald, Cpl". Together We Served. Retrieved November 30, 2017.
  8. ^ Richard Crenna Biography – Yahoo! Movies
  9. ^ "Slattery's People". Television Academy. Retrieved March 17, 2018.
  10. ^ "The Rape of Richard Beck". The New York Times.
  11. ^ Drawing First Blood. First Blood DVD: Artisan. 2002.
  12. ^ "Crenna`s Janek Is Back, But Not In A Series - Yet". tribunedigital-chicagotribune. November 6, 1988. Retrieved March 17, 2018.
  13. ^ "The Forget Me Not Murders". Variety. March 28, 1994. Retrieved March 17, 2018.
  14. ^ "Richard Crenna - Hollywood Star Walk". Los Angeles Times. January 19, 2003. Retrieved March 17, 2018.
  15. ^ "Crenna dies at 76". Variety. January 19, 2003. Retrieved March 17, 2018.

External linksEdit